How to deal with difficult tenants

Posted on: 12 December 2013

Sooner or later every residential property landlord is going to have to deal with problem tenants.

If you do get into difficulty, the problems normally fall into one of the following areas:

  • Neglect of your property
  • Breaking the terms of the lease
  • Complaints from neighbours
  • Non-payment or often late payment of rent
  • Refusing to move out at the end of a tenancy agreement

So, it's as well for every property landlord to have a battle plan.

Step one: avoid the problem

Getting good tenants into your property in the first place is the best way to avoid having to get rid of problem ones in the future. Read our article about how to find them and keep hold of them.

Step two: communicate

As soon as a problem is apparent, open lines of communication. The first of these should be informal - talk to your tenants about the problem, explain why it matters and what the consequences will be if it isn't addressed.

Be fast. As soon as rent is overdue, swing into action. Contact the tenants, visit, phone and write. Do this several times, even in one day, if it seems necessary.

Do everything professionally and by the book - changing locks and any kind of harassment are absolute no nos.

Step three: go your separate ways

If communication has not provided a solution, then steps will need to be taken to remove the tenant.

If your tenants are at the end of the fixed term of an assured shorthold tenancy, you can use Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 to gain possession. You need to give them at least two months’ notice in writing to vacate.

If your tenant is still within the fixed term of their contract, you can seek possession under Section 8. The notice you must give depends on the grounds upon which your basing you're possession, and you must use a specific form (Form 3) to do this.

If the tenant does not vacate the property on the date specified in the notice, you can apply to the courts for a possession order. Much of this can be done online.

More information can be found on gov.uk.

The Safeguard: Insurance

The safeguard is having a good insurance policy in case rent is not paid. Months without rent - or 'voids’ - are a landlord's nightmare, so insuring against them can be a wise investment indeed.

Premierline Buy To Let Insurance covers Property Owners liability and legal expenses as standard. To find out more see our Buy To Let Insurance overview.


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